The terms offshoring, outsourcing, and onshoring are used almost interchangeably to refer to the allocation of intellectual work in the I.T. industry. These terms now have a de-facto definition -- work done by someone other than an American.
To accomplish this, at least in the case of onshoring American hi-tech companies, and even more service firms on other industries, must go to great lengths to import, house, and accommodate the guest workers that have displaced Americans.
Todays's Wall Street Journal exposes the challenges that these guest workers, primarily from India, face in finding mates.
But finding a mate can be easier than finding a job for the guest workers.
Lurk on any web site that caters to the Indian expat community (self-termed "Desis") and you will find a booming business in two things:
- Work visas to the U.S.
- Matrimonial services
Even today, many Indian marriages are orchestrated by parents who plan everything from finding the spouse to the wedding ceremony. They often start by signing up with a marriage bureau or placing classified ads in Indian newspapers.
A recent ad listed under the heading Nonresident Indians read: Brahmin boy, very handsome, 27 years old and 178 centimeters tall (5 feet 10 inches), who has done his MBA and a bachelor's in computer science, working in New York, on an H-1B work visa, seeks a professionally qualified, very beautiful, tall girl.
Based on responses to the matrimonial ads and matches from marriage bureaus, parents of would-be grooms living in America -- sometimes in consultation with their sons -- short list the women. The prospective groom then visits India for one to three weeks, and if he chooses a woman -- and she agrees -- the marriage is set. He then returns to India after a few months for the wedding.- Link
Like the work visas, marriages are usually handled by third parties.
But the guest workers from India that are employed by American companies through the use (and abuse) of the H-1B, and to a larger extent, L-1, visa programs usually have better luck with marriage brokers than job brokers.
Once an Indian hi-tech worker (or one aspiring to be one) responds to an ad on a Desi web site for a guest worker visa ("$500 H-1B to U.S.A!"), he begins a journey that often ends in exploitation and isolation. Many have gotten their "degrees" or "certs" from fly-by-night diploma mills or training centers in their homeland.
Many arrive in the U.S., only to find that the guaranteed job does not exist. The first thing that happens is that a fellow Indian, the "Desi Bodyshop agent," confiscates their passport:
I am a new joinee in this company. This is my first time in USA too. From the day one, things are looking dirty and suspicious. First the HR girl takes away my I-94 card. I gave it to her but later my friends told me that I made a mistake because that makes me illegal in USA. I ask for my card back, but they are refusing saying that it belongs to the compnay. I am not sure if this is true.
Also, their office is actaully in a small town in New Jersey. When they hired me they told me they are based in New york. There are just 3-4 guys sitting there. I did not know it was such a small company.
They also lied to me about company strength. When they interviewed me they told me that they have 200+ employees. But the I-129 petition says they have only 17 employees.
I am already quite scared. I am running out of the money I brought from India. I have not been able to find any project for myself yet. These guys have not paid me a single dollar yet.
Once in America, the guest worker can be deployed to work for any company that the Desi bodyshop wants. Then the fun and games begin.
First, the guest worker must be housed. This story is typical:
In Bloomington at an apartment I was renting was a group of Indians living next door. I spoke with one of the occupants seen on occasion at State Farm, an IT Analyst. As he spoke in broken English he explained there are four of them living in a one bedroom apartment all working for the same Indian outsourcing firm Satyam. It was out of necessity for them to pool their money in order to afford housing. The prevailing wages for a typical IT Analyst in Bloomington, Illinois (2002-2004) averaged in the $40-50 per hour range (4) and he stated he was making $18 per hour less than half of what the going rate was for an American worker. Digging deeper I discovered an ugliness where multiple Indian people were living in squalor, in cramped small apartments unable to afford decent affordable housing. It was kept quiet among the H-1Bs one saying the living conditions were far better with four living in a small apartment than they were back home in India.
Once the indentured servant is housed, the Desi bodyshop must find him/her a job within 30 days or risk being in violation of the terms of his visa. In order to do that, the agency has to do two things:
- Find an open position
- Make the guest workers "C.V" (resume) match the position
The first one is fairly easy. The agency canvases a site like Dice.com, and can take their pick from about 50,000 job postings (there used to be 100,000 as recently as 2008 -- so much for that mythical programmer shortage).
Once a gig is found, the agency reaches out to other Desis that may be placed at the targeted company. A phone interview is setup. To make the guest worker fit the skillset required in the job posting, the Desi recruiter will troll for resumes from the community of Dice users looking for work. They will find a match from among the American resumes, and paste those skills and job history on to the C.V. of the guest worker.
Now, you are probably saying/screaming to yourself "That can't be! No company would hire an unqualified techie!"
True, but the trick is make him look qualified. Remember, many of these contract jobs are urgent needs and filled in days. Once a phone interview is setup, the deal is almost done. This is because of one thing:
The person interviewing for the position over the phone is not the newly arrived guest worker. It is a "proxy" candidate -- one paid by the Desi firm to do nothing but telephonic interviews. He is usually a senior technical person moonlighting for the bodyshop and making extra money doing these calls.
Since, to the average American, the Hindi, Teluga, etc. accents are equally indecipherable, the interviewer has no clue that the person who showed up for the position on his start date is not the same one he talked to on the phone.
You might be thinking "Well, he would never get passed the face to face interview!"
Guess who does the face to face interviews? Another guest worker. Or perhaps another Desi. Since many I.T. shops are predominantly staffed by Indians, the opportunity for nepotism is ripe. The insiders get a kick back from the agency, and the guest worker nets a small share of the billable rate.
As one victim put it:
Don't make that you are a genuine person and your company is a decent company, I know very well about you and your company employees, like how they are suffering, after joining this company. You guys are suing all employees, whose are quit within 2 years contract. Why they are quiting, because you guys were treating like a slaves. I was a slave for [MeanFartin] (aliased by diarist for legal reasons)for some time. Now, I am very happy after come out from this ugly company. All are trying to make money, but you guyz are like real BLOOD SUCKERS. My hourly rate was $75, but you have given $23. You and your colleagues are sucking your employees blood.
I don't like to give harsh and bad words. but MeanFartin consultancies like poison ivy. No human being, no courtesy, no decency, no discipline.
These are the ramifications of America's thirst for hi-tech workers, as long as they are not American. An American is out of a job, a guest worker lives out of a suitcase, unable to find a mate because of cultural customs, and the corporation is left to accomplish its I.T. mission with inferior talent.